As cancer survival rate grows, so does number of new cases
February 2018 by Hugues Honore at MedicalXpress.com
Even as cancer treatment improves and survival rates go up, so too does the number of people afflicted with the deadly disease, experts said earlier this year.
The 14 million new cancer cases worldwide recorded in 2012 will balloon to 24 million within two decades, outstripping the increase in global population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
All forms of cancer combined claimed 8.8 million lives in 2015, making it the second leading cause of death after heart disease.
“We know how to help avoid it, and to detect it. We’re getting better at treating it. But overall, we’re not making real headway in the fight against cancer,” said Christophe Leroux, head of communications for France’s League Against Cancer.
Several factors account for the disease’s growing prevalence.
One is ageing populations, especially in developed nations and China, where a one-child-per-family policy in force for more than 30 years created a top-heavy age pyramid.
Cancer risk increases with age.
There is also a long list of lifestyle habits linked to cancer, with tobacco consumption at the top. Other risk factors—all of them increasing—include eating poorly, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, and obesity.
Cancer-causing infections such as hepatitis and the human papilloma virus (HPV) account for a quarter of cancer cases, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.
Another risk is exposure to carcinogenic industrial pollutants, including asbestos, organic pollutants such as dioxins, heavy metals and small air particles that lodge in the lungs.
Despite the growing challenges, five-year survival rates for most cancers have improved—sometimes significantly—since 2000, according to a study published last week in medical journal The Lancet that reviewed 37.5 million cancer cases between 2000 and 2014.
But large disparities between societies remain, depending on level of development and differences in health case systems.